Let's start at the beginning: what is an organic wine?
An organic wine is a wine that comes from organic farming and that requires winemakers to not use chemicals.
To be considered an organic wine, it must be made from 100% organically grown grapes.
In France, organic farming is developing more and more. Agence Bio, the French association created to develop and support organic farming, has counted 5,263 cellars cultivating about 70,740 ha, which represents about 10% of French vineyards. And this figure is constantly increasing.
ORGANIC, BIODYNAMIC OR NATURAL WINE?
What is an organic wine?
An organic wine is a wine produced according to the principles of organic agriculture. Since 2012, the name "organic wine" is defined by European directives (*). Producers must respect strict specifications if they wish to benefit from the organic label.
According to these new regulations, the maximum sulphite threshold has become much stricter, 30% less than in traditional production. In addition, only certified organic additives, such as yeast and sugar are allowed.
The authorised organisation to validate the best known "AB" (Agriculture biologique) label is called Ecocert. But there are also other private organic labels. Eurofeuille, Terra Vitis or Demeter labels… for example.
The Rolls-Royce among organic wines: biodynamic wines
In order to farm a biodynamic cultivation, you must either already have the "organic" certificate or it must be in process. There are some similarities between an organic wine and a biodynamic wine, but biodynamics goes much further. This type of culture influences the whole life of the vineyard. Indeed, biodynamic cultivation expresses a balance between nature, the vine and the immediate environment. This system is based on the concept of anthroposophy created by Rudolf Steiner (Austrian philosopher and agronomist). In short, the idea is to restore and intensify life in the vineyard, in order to better respect the environment. The lunar cycles and the arrangement of the planets are taken into account, which influences plant growth. The improvement of the soil and the vine is done quite naturally, thanks to parsimonious extracts of natural plant, animal and mineral. The maximum sulphite threshold is even lower than in organic farming. Biodynamy is still affected by its marginal image and its partisans are often described as a bit crazy. However, tasters are increasingly recognising the quality of biodynamic wines during tastings.
Is a natural wine necessarily Sulphur-free?
The answer is no, there is no wine that is entirely Sulphur-free, because sulfur dioxide (SO2) is produced during the fermentation process, when sugar is transformed into alcohol with the help of yeast. Thus, a natural wine is a wine that does not receive any additional sulphur. Natural wines contain either a very small amount of sulphites or no sulphites at all. It is prohibited to exceed the maximum dose of 40 mg/l for white wines and 30 mg/l for red wines. Other wines must not contain sulphites. Looking more closely at natural wines, there are no official regulations. Association des Vins Naturels (AVN) strives to promote fully organic or biodynamic cultivation by adding other regulations, such as the ban on yeasts, which are an integral part of wine production, or by a binding renunciation of any sulphite or other additives.
However, it is important to understand what the benefits of Sulphur in the wine production are. It has antiseptic and antioxidant properties. Sulphur helps to stabilize the fermentation of the wine once it has been bottled. This is why a wine with a low sulphur content must have perfect winemaking conditions, as well as perfect storage and conservation.
Is an organic wine more expensive than non-organic wine?
Yes there is a slight difference. The prices of organic wines are on average higher than the prices of wines produced using chemical fertilizers and pesticides. But this price difference is not that high. It is even relatively small. So enjoy natural and healthy wines, right?
WHAT IS THE BEST PRICE FOR AN ORGANIC WINE?
The price of an organic wine is becoming about the same price as non-organic wine. Prices can start from around £7, which is reasonable for wines produced in an ecological way. On the other hand, prices rise quite quickly if you want to buy rarer organic wines, just like non-organic.
is orgnaic wine better for your health?
YES! Without doubt! Indeed, it is proven that the abusive use of pesticides has led to illness and even death among many wine growers (especially in the United States, in California, where pesticides were particularly used during the 1980s and 1990s). The impact on consumers remains very indirect. The latter are not at exposed to pesticides in the same way as producers. Nevertheless. Consuming organic wines is in any case better for your health.
are you less likely to have headache drinking organic wines?
You more often get a headache the morning after due to certain drink types or production methods. But many people have observed that this headache is less severe when drinking organic wines. Studies have been carried out on this subject. And yes, according to the results, sulphites present in non-organic wines are a factor of headaches. Unlike organic wines ...
do classic and organic wines taste the same?
No, not quite... Without sulphites, the fermentation is less stable. It is therefore logical that the taste can change. For better or for worse. Usually for good though. We even often come across surprising and very pleasant wines. And in this case, specialists / sommeliers / oenologists consider that the richness of organic wines often outweighs the richness of traditionally produced wines.
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